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Journalist charged with helping hackers

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal officials on Thursday charged a social media editor for the Reuters news service with conspiring with the group ‘‘Anonymous’’ to hack into and alter an online Los Angeles Times news story.

Matthew Keys gave Anonymous members login credentials to the computer network of Tribune Co., which owns the Times, in December 2010, the FBI said. Keys had been fired from a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento two months earlier.

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According to the federal grand jury indictment handed down in Sacramento, a hacker altered a Times news story posted Dec. 14 and 15, 2010, to read ‘‘Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.’’

The indictment alleges that Keys, 26, and another hacker failed in another attempt to access the Tribune computer system after the Times hack. Keys acquired the login information while serving as the web producer for the Sacramento-based FOX station KTXL, which is owned by Tribune Co.

The New Jersey native is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, as well transmitting and attempting to transmit that information. If convicted, Keys faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count.

A spokesman for Thomson Reuters Corp. declined comment.

Keys is scheduled for arraignment in Sacramento federal court April 14. He didn’t respond to email inquiries and messages sent through his Twitter account and Facebook page Thursday.

The indictment comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of two other U.S. media companies that own The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both newspapers reported in February that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.

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